The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is deeply critical of the speech delivered to the Haaretz Israel Conference for Peace by Philip Gordon, the Obama Administration’s Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region, in which Gordon:
- Reiterated President Obama’s demand for Israel to withdraw with minor land swaps to the vulnerable and non-binding 1949 armistice lines (which he wrongly termed the “1967 lines” –– making these lines appear to be legal borders that should be restored, not unstable armistice lines between Israel and belligerents who refuse to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state). As we argued when President Obama first outlined this formula in May 2011, such a call for Palestinian Arab statehood under prevailing conditions and particularly in light of the Fatah/Hamas unity government agreement: 1. Utterly compromises his stated commitment to Israel’s security; 2. Erodes U.S. commitment to UN SC Resolution 242, which called for “secure and recognized boundaries secured by negotiation, not whittled away borders announced in advance of negotiations, thereby unnecessarily and dangerously undercutting Israel’s legitimate position in any future negotiation; 3. Nullifies George W. Bush 2004 letter to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in which President Bush supported the view that the setting of future borders should reflect the realities on the ground and that large Israeli townships should come within the new borders of Israel when those borders come to be negotiated; 4. Erodes every Israel claim and interest in the territories beyond the 1949 armistice lines by making it subject to a Palestinian Arab veto; 5. Insists that, whatever Israel manages to retain with Hamas/Fatah PA agreement must be compensated by a land swap of equivalent territory.
- Engaged in shocking, false equivalence between Israel –– which has agreed in-principle to a Palestinian Arab state and previously (and unwisely) freed jailed Palestinian Arab Jew-killers and frozen Jewish construction in Judea/Samaria in order to bring the Palestinian Authority (PA) to negotiations –– and the PA, which glorifies terrorists living and dead; has not fulfilled its Oslo commitments to disband and outlaw terror groups and cease promoting incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps; and which has entered a unity government with Hamas, which calls in its Charter for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews, by stating that “neither side prepared their publics or proved ready to make the difficult decisions required for an agreement.”
- Bestowed unmerited praise on Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, “has shown time and again that he is committed to nonviolence and coexistence with Israel,” but who has actually recently concluded a unity government with Hamas, which is presently hammering Israel with hundreds of rocket assaults from Gaza, glorifies terrorists by naming schools, streets and sports teams after Jew-killing terrorists; praised Jew-killing terrorists who died in their attacks as ‘martyrs’; congratulated the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit; and told Arab journalists that, “If you [Arab states] want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor.”
- Reiterated the false cliché that Israel will be demographically overwhelmed by hostile Arabs unless it creates a Palestinian Arab state –– “given the demographics west of the Jordan River it’s the only way to ensure a secure and democratic future for the Jewish state of Israel” –– despite repeated, reputable studies showing that the demographic threat has no basis. The 2007 American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) study showed that the PA deliberately inflated its population figures to total over 3.3 million, while the actual figure is closer to the neighborhood of 2.4 million. The fertility rate of Palestinian Arabs in Judea/Samaria has declined from 5 births in 2002 to 2.91 in 2013, while the Jewish fertility rate in Israel of 3.04 –– a rate higher than in any Arab country. In 1995, the number of Jewish births constituted 69% of total Israeli births; whereas today in 2014, the percentage in 77% and rising. Moreover, 98% of Palestinian Arabs live under Palestinian Arab rule. A peaceful Palestinian Arab state, even if one could be established under current conditions, would not alter this fact. Yet, despite this, Gordon said, “Israel confronts an undeniable reality: it cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely. Doing so is not only wrong but a recipe for resentment and recurring instability. It will embolden extremists on both sides, tear at Israel’s democratic fabric, and feed mutual dehumanization.” Israel is not “controlling another people,” indefinitely or otherwise –– the Hamas/Fatah PA terrorist regime, to which the Obama Administration gives U.S. taxpayers’ money is; Israel’s defensive measures in Judea/Samaria and Gaza are a function of Palestinian Arab extremism, dehumanization of Jews and terrorism, not their cause; and Israeli democracy and freedom is imperiled by fighting it, while Israel is, however, harmed by irresponsible and false statements of this kind by a U.S. official.
- Reiterated that the Obama Administration “consider settlements illegitimate and an impediment to progress on peace negotiations” –– a doubly false claim. “Illegitimate” is not a legal term, “illegality,” however, is, and the Obama Administration itself vetoed a UN SC resolution declaring Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria to be illegal. In any case, there is noting illegal or illegitimate about these Jewish communities, as the alleged basis of this illegality, Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention, as we have often pointed out, has no bearing on the case. Article 49 applies only to territory of sovereign states occupied in war and prohibits war crimes like deportations; not to unallocated territory under international law and to Israeli Jews freely living in and building homes in Judea/Samaria. Moreover, this territory was illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967, whereas Jewish residential rights in this territory under the 1920 San Remo settlement have never been extinguished. Israel has a better legal, religious and historical claim than any other party.
- Pretended that something other a strong Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley, which provides Israel with a defensible, strategic barrier against invasion from the east, can secure Israel, when in fact “layered defense … strengthening the fences on both sides of the border, ensuring the right level of boots on the ground … deploying state-of-the-art technology” can only achieve partial satisfaction of Israel’s vital security interests. Israel is thereby expected to subordinate its own strategic assessment to assessments made by the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Yet, every Israeli prime minister and consecutive Israeli governments of all political complexions have regarded retention of the Jordan Valley as vital to Israel’s security and, indeed, the late Yitzhak Rabin in his last speech to the Knesset, delivered on October 5, 1995, ruled out a fully sovereign Palestinian Arab state and the ceding of the Jordan Valley.
- Repeated a veiled threat to Israel, even while denying that he was making a threat (rightly exposed and criticized by Senator Charles Schumer (D–NY) earlier this year), by falsely claiming that international Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) campaign against Israel cannot be strongly fought by the U.S. outside the U.N. Security Council, when in fact the U.S. could have, and still can, take many measures to blunt its drive, including –– 1. Withdrawing the U.S. from UN bodies like the utterly compromised, anti-Israel Human Rights Council, whose decisions, and U.S. membership, serves often as the basis for the claims and justification of the BDS campaigns targeting Israel.; and 2. Publicly condemning the Fatah/Hamas PA regime and cutting funding to it –– especially in the wake of the Hamas abduction and murder of the three Israeli teenagers and the Hamas rocket barrage upon Israel from Gaza –– which would indicate to the world that Israel is dealing with a terrorist entity, not a peace partner.
- Repeated the false apologia of the Obama Administration’s commitment to stopping Iran obtain a nuclear weapon (“agreement must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,”) when, as the ZOA outlined at the time, the Geneva Interim agreement with Iran has permitted Iran to retain intact all the essential elements of its nuclear weapons program –– continued construction of its Arak plutonium plant; continued uranium enrichment to 5% (which, with 18,000 centrifuges, can enable swift enrichment to weapons-grade level, allowing Iran to become a break-out nuclear state in a matter of months); continued intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programs (which, according to U.S. intelligence, will enable Iran to strike the U.S. itself by 2015); retention of its enriched uranium stocks (Iran being simply required to reduce them to an oxide which can be restored in weeks to weapons-grade uranium); and substantial sanctions relief totaling some $20 billion over 6 months; not the $6-7 billion originally forecast by the Administration. Even assuming that the sanctions regime does not break down, it will take many months if not year, to restore sanctions when it emerges that Iran will not terminate its nuclear weapons program. Nor has President Obama indicated nay willingness to use military force if all else fails, a failing that is particularly stark and which erodes U.S. credibility to vanishing point since he laid a ‘red line’ on Syrian use of WMD –– and then failed to act on it when the Assad regime crossed that line last year. Furthermore, the nomination and appointment as Defense Secretary of Chuck Hagel further eroded American credibility, since Hagel has a long record of outspoken opposition to stopping Iran by military and even economic means.
- ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is appalling for an Obama Administration official Philip Gordon to make an inaccurate, misleading, tendentious pro-Hamas/Fatah PA speech, especially while Israel’s citizens are enduring hundreds of Hamas/PA rockets designed to murder Israelis and wreak havoc on Israel. President Obama should apologize forthwith for this disgraceful speech.”